Women at Work: How The Fortune Society Challenges Everyday Bias

Women at Work: How The Fortune Society Challenges Everyday Bias


For Women’s History Month, The Fortune Society is excited to highlight the work done every day by women.  In honor of International Women’s Day’s theme, #ChooseToChallenge, we asked some of our women staff members how their work challenges inequality.   

For Tanaya Richards, a Case Manager in Family Services, she regularly challenges her clients, mostly men,  on how they view women.  

“To have a woman’s point of view and opinion [with our male-identifying clients], you get respected,” she said. “I do the Family Services groups and it’s good for the men to know that not all females or all their children’s mothers are the same.”  

Tanaya sees how generalizations of women can be harmful. She leads by example, showing her clients what it means to be a healthy partner and/or mother.  

"A lot of it has to come with growth and communication,” Tanaya said. “I think that's the biggest part of...being a person, being a counselor, is communication and just effectively listening to what the other party has to say.”

Tanaya takes her role as a case manager and counselor very seriously, as it impacts a lot of people’s lives. She explains that to be a good case manager you have to have a willingness to listen to very personal aspects of someone’s life; however, she has noticed that it’s not only her clients that she sees changing but also, herself 

“You become a better person, you become [more] understanding [of] people, and you learn to change,” she said.   

When asked how she can #ChooseToChallenege negative attitudes and uplift women, Tanaya advocates for equal rights. She would love to see more environments where every person is being treated fairly and respectfully. She also would like to see more self-care with groups that create supportive environments for women and promote self-love.  

To create gender equality, it’s important to start conversations about change even, and especially, when they are difficult.   

“I think women rule the world, you know?” she laughed. 

Christina Johnson, also a Case Manager in Family Services, has loved working at Fortune because of the openness and diversity of staff members.   

“We don’t’ have a full executive team of males. We don’t have a full executive team of women. We’re really equal,” she said. “We really care about the people and the things that we do.”  

Christina has recently started a women’s group with our Abusive Partner Intervention Program that focuses on “Turning Points” for women. The group helps members unpack the effects of domestic violence and learn how to build healthy relationships.   

“We set the tone for people that are ready and willing to make the change,” Christina said.  

When working with women with justice involvement, Christina can see where support is lacking. In her opinion, one of the biggest areas where women still need support is access to mental health services. 

"As women, we’re looked at as the ‘nurturers’ and the ‘providers.’ Some people are so quick to say, ‘Oh, she’s a woman, she’s got this. She’s a mother, she has this,’” she explains. “But nobody sat down and let us women know that it’s okay to have feelings, it’s okay to feel loss.”

Christina explains that to be successful mental health support needs to be available. Feeling supported can change someone’s outlook on their situation. Along with that, she says that having access to housing can be such a relief for women. Having a stable place to live can create a healthy environment for an individual or a family. 

For Christina, #ChooseToChallenge is all about coming together as communities to mutually support one another. Christina believes that telling real-life stories can uplift voices and promote change.   

For Women’s History Month, and throughout the year, Fortune is committed to addressing the needs and experiences of women with justice involvement and equipping them with tools to succeed.   

“We can challenge the negative narratives by showing...the positive side, the good and the outcome that comes once you give somebody a second chance,” said Christina. “Everybody definitely deserves a second chance.”

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